Dupré Logistics


Your Drivers Need to Sleep

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Despite mounting evidence indicating the risks, the notion of getting adequate sleep continues to be waved off.

It’s similar to what we see with driving and texting, and guilty parties all say the same thing: “I’m fine; I got it,” blithely assuming he or she is above the proven science. Truck drivers frequently drive through breaks, add a few more hours or ignore the Hours of Service law altogether — and their respective employers allow it. Heck, in some cases they encourage it!

But here’s why that’s a terrible idea, both financially and ethically.

Even if you choose to ignore the rules, turning the blind eye and shifting accountability, there’s the undeniable financial risk.

Traffic accidents cost $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm, according to a report released just last month from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Contributing to this figure are costs associated with harm from the loss of life, and decreased quality of life due to pain and injuries – costing truck companies up to 3 million dollars per incident. It’s estimated that large trucks account for roughly one out of eight traffic fatalities, ultimately costing the trucking industry billions in settlements.

Yet, many companies still place unfair and unethical demands on their drivers, perhaps under the impression that it’s “safe enough.” But nothing could be further from the truth.

In an interview with Forbes, Doctor Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, noted, “[Most people] don’t understand the consequences of not getting enough sleep. Unfortunately they think if they work more hours they will be able to get ahead of people who chose to work less and sleep more. We now know that this is not true. People who choose to sleep will perform better.”

It’s something even “field experts” in the industry are honest about.

According to “Trucker Mike,” a frequent author on the blog, TruckingTruths.com, “the real world isn’t full of truck drivers who log 100% legal all the time. In the real world, most drivers cut into their sleep time, even though they are still working. This is probably the only industry where employees will lie to say they aren’t working, even though they really are.”

We all know the benefits of adequate sleep, but less accepted, still – especially in the over-the-road arena — are the consequences of sleep deprivation and extended periods of wakefulness.

Maybe There’s a Reason That Log Isn’t Adding Up

More than just excessive yawning, lack of sleep contributes to everything from compromised immunity to a decline in cognitive performance to an increased risk for brain disorders.

In fact, lack of sleep can even interfere with a person’s ability to perform basic math skills.

In a study published in the journal NeuroReport, researchers studied the effects of extended wakefulness on 13 healthy individuals. Participants were given a simple arithmetic test after a normal night of sleep, and then again after experiencing sleep deprivation.

Not only did sleep deprived subjects find it more difficult to answer elementary addition and subtraction problems, they had notably reduced brain activity.

Using fMRI scans, scientists actually observed that brain activity in the prefrontal cortex decreased considerably when study participants experienced a lack of sleep. Inactivity in this region of the brain can result in blurred vision and even hallucinations. But the risks don’t stop there.

Studies show that lack of sleep markedly slows reaction time (a particularly dangerous side effect for drivers), impairs vision, alters spatial awareness and compromises focus. Extended wakefulness has been scientifically proven to reduce alertness and increase risk for injuries and accidents— accidents that not only cost companies millions, but cost lives.

It’s just not a matter that should be left to a cost risk analysis.

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